Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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'I left ... feeling myself a better man'

Piotr Kaczkowski in Poland's Tylko Rock No 5, 1996

Polish / English translation Mac Gajda


London Rainbow theatre
More than 23 years have passed since that time, and I can still see and hear that concert as it was just before ... There was a long line of people queuing from Finsbury Park tube station to Rainbow theatre, then the newest London concert hall. All tickets sold out but probably they still keep some a hundred passes for standing places, at least claimed those who were near the
box office.

The gig is due to start in two hours, and I am still somewhere in the second hundred. More twenty people behind me. We are humming Homburg, A Whiter Shade of Pale, A Salty Dog. Somebody's telling about the famous Edmonton concert where his friends were. Tonight it's the only UK performance. Guy Woolfenden, a music director of Royal Shakespeare Company, will conduct The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

A pass cost 75p and they must have had them more than a hundred, as I noticed at the box office. When I got finally inside, the choir Pro Arte was about to be ready on the stage. Presenter excuses for a small delay: 'You can see how difficult it is to accommodate a hundred people on this stage'. Procol Harum show up in their six-men line-up: Brooker, Cartwright, Wilson, Grabham, Copping and Keith Reid, the latter, an author of all words, sitting down quietly in the corner. Everything looked like on the cover of the album from Edmonton, if you remember. Conquistador, A Salty Dog, Whaling Stories, Hesperus, Fires which nobody knew at that time, similarly Toujours L'Amour and TV Ceasar. Brooker explains that they will be included in the next album, the title song of which will follow ... after the break.

That's a symphonic concert!

When the musicians returned, we got the whole In Held 'Twas In I, perhaps even more beautiful than known from Edmonton, and then amazing Grand Hotel. Standing ovation and as an encore they are playing A Souvenir of London, already without an orchestra, with an acoustic guitar and banjo, sung to just one mike (first unplugged?).

A beautiful concert after which I left Rainbow feeling myself to be a better man. I guess I was not the only one...


Mac says: author, being today a director of Programme 3 of Polish Radio, is one of best known presenters and music journalists in Poland. He was one of the first who discovered Procol Harum to Polish fans, being himself a great fan of Procol Harum.


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